MCC Kit Bags

FMC Kit Crew

Every year, thousands of MCC Kits are created and sent to people in need all over the world.  School Kits are the type of Kit most frequently requested.  They contain notebooks, pencils and sharpener, pens, ruler, eraser, and colored pencils packaged in a handsome cloth bag – The MCC Kit Bag.  All Kit Bags are essentially the same size and shape, measuring 11 3/4” x 16 3/4” and are closed by 2 drawstrings at the top.  Kit Bags are sewn and the drawstrings threaded at the top by volunteers who then donate them to MCC. The Kit Bags may be made from a variety of cotton and synthetic fabrics.  They have to be sturdy to carry many things and withstand some rough use.  But in order to reduce mailing costs they cannot be too heavy so denim and corduroy are not acceptable. 

There is a long history of Mennonite women caring for their neighbors. Sewing Circles that made garments for the poor are documented as early as 1897 in eastern Pennsylvania.  In the decades that followed there was an expansion of sewing circles with many name and organizational changes.  This was occurring even before MCC was founded on September 27, 1920 with the initial goal of providing food for Mennonites starving in the Ukraine.  The mission of MCC quickly expanded to helping anyone in need.

The first “Kit type” items distributed by MCC were Christmas Bundles sent to children in Europe in 1946 following the devastation of World War II.  Many older members of FMC remember helping their mothers prepare these gifts.  Quickly following the Christmas Bundles, in 1947, School Bags began to be distributed which in the mid-1960s became known as “School Kits”.  The types and numbers of kits MCC currently generates and distributes is shown below.

MCC Kits Distributed in 2019

Relief Kits 22,029
Hygiene Kits 63,360
School Kits 129,100
Infant Care Kits 10,934
Sewing Kits 2,220
Total 227,643

The kits shown above have a total value of $1,960,500 and account for approximately 40% of the total material resources MCC shipped last year.  The Hygiene Kits, School Kits and Sewing Kits all include a MCC Kit Bag so 194,880 Kit Bags were needed in 2019.

The FMC Kit Crew was started in 2017 led by Priscilla Boschmann and Margaret Miller.  It meets monthly to sew Kit Bags and, in addition to the leaders, consists of LuEtta Culp, Marilyn Stutzman, Falguni Sarkar and Connie Danielson.  Several others from both FMC and Shalom have contributed time and materials.  New members and visitors are always welcome.  In 2017, FMC donated 379 Kit Bags and 7 comforters to MCC.  In 2018, five comforters and 557 Kit Bags, of which 150 were filled with items donated by the congregation to make complete Hygiene Kits, were sent to MCC.  The FMC donation in 2019 was four comforters and 429 Kit Bags of which 175 were filled with the items needed to make them School Kits.  The FMC Kit Crew plans to continue sewing and donating Kit Bags to MCC contributing, in a small way, to MCC’s Mission of sharing “…….. God’s love and compassion for all…..”                             

Reference:  The MCC Archives in Akron, PA.

About the author

Constance Danielson

Connie is a retired pathologist who enjoys reading, walks outdoors and spending time with family and friends.